In your article 'RedR considers ethical debate' (NCE 14-28 December), the possibility was raised that humanitarian action may be an alibi for injustice and that providing such assistance may support political leaders who would otherwise have to 'face the consequences of their actions'.
While this is indeed a possibility, we should be wary of resorting to another alibi - that of avoiding our responsibility to support initiatives because they encounter problems.
Disasters occur in societies that cannot cope, often because the political system has broken down. Outside help is required and as members of the international community we have our own part to play in providing that help.
The resolution of major humanitarian crises also requires political, diplomatic and often military action. In many cases, humanitarian agencies are left to pick up the pieces when such actions fail.
In providing assistance, agencies have a responsibility to act intelligently and with their eyes open to the realities both of human need and of human failings.
While withholding certain types of assistance may be needed in very special circumstances, it is our duty to find other ways of helping those in need.
In addressing these challenges, RedR continues to develop its register of skilled and committed engineers and to provide training so that all our members are fully prepared to deal with such issues. The demands on competent and committed professionals have never been higher - they are now required to go beyond merely 'doing good' to 'doing good well'.
Bobby Lambert (CEng, MIEI), director RedR Bobby@redr.demon.co.uk